Americans are less likely to perceive a serious threat from dangerous driving behaviors such as drunk, aggressive or drowsy driving, according to an analysis of four years of public surveys conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The decreased concern is accompanied by an estimated 5.3 percent increase in annual traffic fatalities, totaling more than 34,000 in 2012. This is the first annual increase in seven years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"Over the last four years, motorists appear to be growing more complacent rather than becoming more concerned about potential safety risks behind the wheel," said Christine Delise, AAA spokeswoman. "The 'do I say, not as I do' attitude continues to remain common with many motorists consistently admitting to engaging in the same dangerous behaviors for which they would condemn other drivers."
Survey results during the previous four years show decreasing concern for dangerous driving behaviors:
* The number of people who believe driving after drinking is a very serious threat declined from a near universal 90 percent in 2009 to 69 percent in 2012.
*The number of people who consider drowsy driving a very serious threat declined from 71 percent in 2009 to 46 percent in 2012.
* The number of people who believe that texting or emailing while driving is a very serious threat declined from 87 percent in 2009 to 81 percent in 2012. The number of people who admit to texting while driving increased from 21 percent to 26 percent during the same period.
* The number of people who consider red light running to be completely unacceptable declined from 77 percent in 2009 to 70 percent in 2012. More than one third admitted to running a red light within the previous month.
"While we have made great strides in recent years to reduce road deaths, there are still too many needless fatalities caused by dangerous driving," continued Delise. "The findings from these surveys is a wake-up call that more must be done to address the dangers of drunk, distracted, aggressive and drowsy driving to stem this concerning trend."